Part 4
Chapter 3—Of Original Sin

Section 9—Gregorius Neocaesariensis. A.D. 240.

Gregory, surnamed Thaumaturgus, the Wonder Worker, from the miracles said to be wrought by him, was born at Neocaesarea of Pontus, of noble and wealthy parents, heathens; he was converted to Christianity under the preaching of Origen, and was afterwards made bishop of the place where he was born; upon his leaving Caesarea he made a panegyric oration to a numerous audience, in the presence of Origen, about A.D. 239[1] which, and his metaphrase on Ecclesiastes, are the chief writings of his extant, to be depended on as genuine. Could the sermons upon the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, be thought to be his, which go under his name, they would furnish us with two or three testimonies in favor of original sin; but as they are dubious,[2] I shall not transcribe them, but refer the reader to them in the margin,[3] however, he has a passage in his oration which gives some plain hints of original sin, and the sad consequences of it; bewailing his departure from Caesarea, and .leaving Origen, “I know not how,” says he,[4] “through what sufferings, or sinning again, I depart, or am driven hence; what to say I know not, but that as another Adam, out of paradise, I begin to speak—these seem to be sins, thv palaiav apathv, ‘owing to the old deception,' the punishments arcaiwn ‘of the ancients' (meaning Adam and Eve) remain still on me; do I not seem again to disobey, daring to transgress the words of God, in which and with which I ought to abide?” He expresses his consciousness of his own weakness, without divine grace and assistance, to attain to any virtue either human or divine, or the knowledge of things spiritual: his words are these;[5] We neither have, nor are we near any virtue, either human or divine; we need much; these are great and high, and neither of them can be attained or gotten, otw mh Qeov ge empneoi dunamin, ‘but to whom God inspires power;' we are not by nature fit nor worthy to enjoy, we still confess.” He observes, in another place,[6] that “they that hear the prophets, thv authv dunamiov dei profhteuosi, ‘have need of the same power with them that prophesy;' nor can any one hear a prophet, except the same spirit that prophesies gives him an understanding of his words; for there is such an oracle in the holy writings, affirming that he that shuts can only open, and no other.” Gregory ascribes his conversion, which was when he was very young, to a divine power, and not to his own free will; “I first passed,” says he,[7] “to the saying and true word I know not how, katenagkas-menos mallon eiper ekon, forced rather than willing.” And a little after,[8] “Human reason, and the divine reason, or Logos, began together in me, the one helping, to alelecto men emoi, oikeia de auto dunamei, by a power indeed unspeakable to me, but peculiar to him, the other helped.”


[1] Vide Fabricii. Graec. 1. 5, c. 1, s. 28, p. 247.

[2] Vide Rivet. Critic. Sacr. 1. 2, e. 16, p. 219.

[3] Vide Serra. 1, p. 11, A, 13, D.; et Serm. 2, p. 20, B.

[4] Orat. Panegyr. p. 74, B, C.

[5] Ibid. 68, C.

[6] Ibid. p. 73, C.

[7] Ibid. p. 55, C.

[8] Ibid. p. 56, A.